Terrance Leighton, PhD
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The sporulation process of Bacillus subtilis is one of the most well characterized molecular genetic systems available for the analysis of postexponential phase regulatory mechanisms. Over 150 genes have been identified and assigned to genetic loci, mutations in which specifically block sporulation at a defined morphological and biochemical stage of development. In most cases the nature and cellular function of the gene product is known.
We are utilizing genomic, computational and phylogenetic techniques to reconstruct the genesis and evolution of endospore formation in two genera: Clostridium and Bacillus. The mechanisms, mode and tempo of sporulation gene set evolution are being studied in the context of ecogenetic and developmental selection.
Other areas of research interest include the use of chlorine dioxide for large-area remediation of buildings contaminated with infectious agents including nosocomial infections in hospitals; the investigation of the molecular mechanisms involved in sterilization of spores and pathogenic bacteria; and infectious disease biosurveillance of viral/viral and bacterial/viral co-infections.
The accelerating scope, scale and consequences associated with respiratory viral and bacterial infectious disease outbreaks, the leading cause of acute illness in adults, are unprecedented. Of particular concern are co-infections with viral and bacterial pathogens, where many deaths associated with recent influenza outbreaks appear to be caused by secondary bacterial pneumonia following primary virus infection.
Currently, infectious disease outbreaks are only recognized by epidemiological investigation after their occurrence. Lack of a coherent system for detection, characterization, diagnosis, management and prevention of known/emerging diseases increases the probability of adverse events. Faster, finer grained biosurveillance is needed to identify agents, genotypes, sources, and spread of priority pathogens.

Revised: December 23, 2015 8:17 AM

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